Fufu - a Soft, Spongy, Stretchy Dough, Popular Across West Africa - Has Begun Starring in Leading Food Social Media Accounts, and the Trend Just Keeps on Growing.
The latest surge of interest in the West African dish Fufu started in January 2021, with TikTokers and Youtubers leading the wave. Fufu - a soft, spongy, stretchy dough, popular across West Africa - has begun starring in leading food social media accounts, and the trend just keeps on growing.
The #fufu or #fufuchallenge tags are a mixed bag of new fufu lovers; people who respectfully say it isn’t for them; and members of the African diaspora gently walking the average consumer through the heritage of African cuisine. One of the most prominent fufu advocates on TikTok is KeithEatsthat that vlogs his many meals to over 270,000 followers. His feed is a mix of West African favorites and an array of other cuisines, and it's where the #fufuchallenge began. After a particularly popular video of Keith enjoying fufu with vegetable soup, other TikTok users began mimicking the dish. Within a few weeks fufu had gone viral, joining the likes of the feta pasta and mini-pancake cereal crazes.
What is Fufu exactly?
Fufu, an essential food in most of West Africa, refers to a dough made from boiled and pounded starchy ground provisions like plantains, cassava, or malanga—or a combination of two or more. It was brought to the Americas by enslaved populations who adapted it to Caribbean cuisine according to what was available. The word "fufu" comes from the Twi language, spoken in Ghana and Ivory Coast; it means "mash" or "mix." It's sometimes spelled foo-foo or fou-fou.
There are many versions of fufu, with each West African country featuring its own favorite recipe. Cuba, Jamaica and Puerto Rico have their versions too, with sweet plantains and added animal fats such as butter, bacon or lard. In African tradition, fufu is served family-style in a big round dough-like form. The dough is hand-pulled by each guest who uses it to soak up the juices in stews or soupy preparations. Thus it's customary to eat fufu with clean hands as this is finger food in the truest sense of the term. By pulling off a pinch of dough about the size of a quarter, rolling it into a ball in your hand, and then making an indentation in the ball with your thumb, you can then scoop up some stew or sauce and enjoy the whole bite. The traditional recipe for fufu uses true yams, which are boiled and then pounded in a wooden mortar and pestle until they're smooth and sticky like dough. The tart and sour flavor of pounded starches pairs really well with full-bodied and well-seasoned meat and vegetable dishes.
What makes fufu so special?
Like many traditional West African ingredients and dishes, fufu has immense health benefits: not only is it low in cholesterol, it is rich in fiber, potassium and resistant starch, which feeds the beneficial bacteria in your gut and may help reduce inflammation and promote digestive health, and contains vitamin C, thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. In other words, fufu is a one-stop carb shop that does so much good while filling you up.
West African Cuisine Market opportunity
Although some of the #fufuchallenge and recipes spread through TikTok, it carried with it misunderstandings and culinary assumptions, it is boosted the interest in West African cuisine. Views of videos related to eating with "fufu" or "egusi" in the title have increased over 100x during January-March 2021 (YouTube), when compared to the same period last year.
African cuisine offers numerous opportunities for innovation, and US consumers are showing their interest. Overall, the West Africa food services market has reached a value of US $5.3 Billion in 2020; looking forward, IMARC Group expects the market to exhibit moderate growth during 2021-2026. The West African ingredients have many varied and unique properties that can be utilized to elevate products when they are sourced from the region, and it is safe to say that product innovation featuring vibrant African flavors coupled with well-known modern formats can be turned into a successful story on the food aisles.
How to Make Water Fufu from Scratch? - Cassava Fufu Recipe !
This fufu version is made by fermenting cassava (yuca roots), then blending and cooking. It can be enjoyed with any soup of choice.
Servings: 5 servings
Author: Precious of preciouscore.com
6 large tubers of cassava (yuca root)
2 teaspoons baking soda optional
Peel the cassava. Cut each tuber into 5 or 6 pieces, then split each piece in the middle part where you can see the fiber. Use a knife to lift up the skin from the divided cassava, then use your knife or hand to take off the whole skin.
Wash the cassava thoroughly and place in a large container. Pour in water to completely cover the cassava, then add two teaspoons of baking soda. Cover the container and keep it to ferment in a warm corner for 3-5 days. To check if the cassava is well-fermented, press with your fingers, if it is soft then it is okay. Note that all might not be very soft but if most is soft then you are good to go.
Strain the fermented cassava to remove excess water. Then place in a blender or food processor and process into a puree. You may have to do this in two batches.
Now remove any fiber you see in the puree. You can do this by either running your hand through the puree and picking out any fiber, or by adding water to the puree then passing it through a strainer. It is recommended that you use your hand if you intend to cook the fufu right away.
Pour the puree into a clean kitchen towel or cheese cloth, then squeeze to remove excess water. If you added more water, pass the fufu through a strainer, you may need to squeeze longer. Or tightly tie the kitchen cloth containing the puree and place it in the kitchen sink with a heavy object on top to help push out the water. When the excess water is out, your fufu is ready to be cooked!
To cook the cassava fufu:
Place the raw fufu in a pot then run through it with your hands to dissolve any excess lumps. Add a quarter cup of water and mix to form a paste.
Place on medium-high heat, then cover and let it rest for two minutes. Begin stirring with a wooden spoon, mixing hard enough to dissolve the lumps that form as it cooks.
Add water as needed (about 1 cup in total) while stirring to ensure that the fufu is not too strong. Please see video to see how the texture should be. Keep mixing on heat until the fufu shifts from bright white to an off-white color. It is ready when it is an off-white colour.
Turn off the heat then mold the fufu into lumps (shaped like small logs of wood or like balls) if you wish.
Enjoy with any soup of choice! I love enjoying it with Ogbono soup.
1. The baking soda in this recipe helps initiate the fermentation process. This is important if you purchase your cassava outside Africa.
Interested to learn more about the African Food Trends? Read: African Food - 2021 Market Opportunities .